As recruiting season is wrapping up / in full swing for undergraduates and just beginning for MBAs, I thought I would compile some updated information to compare how the MBB differs between each other. It's true that the differences are marginal at this level but there are differences, nonetheless. I hope this thread is helpful for people as they navigate the recruiting process and please do correct me if there's any misinformation that I'm compiled -- I will revise!
*Note: The follow are grossly generalizations for each firm in the US and people's experiences obviously vary - would appreciate people chiming in on personal experiences if they differ from the below.
1. Entry Points:
+Undergrad Entry: Generalist BA or Non-generalist BA (Digital, Operations, M&S, Strategy & Corp Finance, BTO)
+Graduate / Experienced Entry: Generalist Associate or Non-generalist BA (Digital, Operations, M&S, Strategy & Corp Finance, BTO)
+Undergrad Entry: Generalist AC
+Graduate / Experience Entry: Generalist C
+Undergrad Entry: Generalist A
+Graduate / Experience Entry: Generalist C
2. Interview Process:
+BA & A: Application (Cover Letter Optional), 1st Round, 2nd Round; Interviewer-led
+AC & C: Application (Cover Letter Required), 1st Round, 2nd Round; Interviewee-led
+A & C: Application (Cover Letter Required), 1st Round, 2nd Round; Interviewee-led
3. Staffing Model:
McKinsey: Global Staffing Model
+Generalists: Network to get staffing, "sell yourself", no geographic limitation (Good if you are a rock-start, Bad if you are not good at networking)
+Non-Generalist: Confined to X% of practice aligned cases, allowed to work on 100%-X% of non-practice aligned cases (where X is dependent on which function), staffing manager needs to approve cases before you can do them, no geographic limitation (Good if you want to focus on an specific area, Bad if you want to get exposure to some cases that may prefer generalists or be restricted to do them if you have not met your quota)
Bain: Local Staffing Model
+Staffing manager completes all staffing assignments with input from consultants, driven by supply/demand and less on specialty and past-case experience, cases will be from local office
BCG: Regional Staffing Model
+Consultants can network as well as work with staffing to optimize for factors (e.g., people, location, practice area), somewhere in between McKinsey's style and Bain's style, cases will be from anywhere in the region (Northeast, Midwest, West Coast).
4. Location Preferences:
+McKinsey: Choose where you want to live, case opportunities are largely dependent on your networking skills more so than the home office
+Bain: Choose where you want to live in more major cities (NY/SF/BOS/CHI/ATL). Larger offices have more variety of cases, smaller offices with fewer partners may be more specialized in certain cases due to partner specializations - although most offices have plenty of cases.
+BCG: Choose where you want to live in the region you are comfortable working in, some regions have more types of cases than others (e.g. West Coast has more tech).
5. Career Progression:
+McKinsey: Fastest - If top 10% of class, you can be promoted to EM in 3 years (DTEM- BA->A->C->EM)
+Bain: Slowest - If top performer, you can be promoted to Consultant in 3 years (DTC--AC->SAC->C)
+BCG: Slower - Most people get promoted to Consultant in 2-3 years (DTC--A->C)
+McKinsey: Not cutthroat as people describe but you might feel less connected. Global staffing and 80-100% travel means fewer interactions with your home office. In some offices, people do not work in the office on Fridays. Culture is more button-ed up and professional. Less likely to make lifelong friends without significant effort in maintaining relationships with ex-case teammates or local colleagues.
+Bain: Not "fratty" as people describe but consultants are generally outgoing, nice, and warm individuals. Strongest sense of connection of the three, thanks to local office model and 40-60% travel (i.e., more local projects). Has the most office (formal/informal) events and formal training programs. Most likely to end up being friends with colleagues without significant effort. Many stay in touch even exiting Bain
+BCG: Most "family-oriented" and people are more quirky than Bain and more personable than McKinsey. Has good connections in the home office, somewhere in between how tight Bain is and how loose McKinsey is. People genuinely care about one another.
7. Responsibilities & Work Style:
+McKinsey: BAs (undergrad) are treated like As (MBA). More recycling of old frameworks / using precedents. Follow the McKinsey Way - always approach problems from the C-suite perspective.
+Bain: ACs (undergrad) are treated like analysts / below Cs (MBA) until you learn the ropes (i.e., Bain ramps you up instead of throwing you into the fire when you are less experience). More flexibility than McKinsey to change previous frameworks.
+BCG: As (undergrad) are treated like Cs (MBA). Probably most flexible in allowing creative thoughts given value proposition is to tailor approach to different problems.
8. Structure: Please do not correlate this with selectivity
+McKinsey: Diamond - experienced hires / MBAs > undergrad
+Bain: Pyramid - MBAs < undergrad
+BCG: Diamond - experienced hires / MBAs > undergrad
9. Perks & Extras:
+: Recently removed a bunch of perks. Must use AMEX for flights, hotel cards for hotel use only (limited points accumulation). No for consultants because the Firm focuses on "clients first"
+Bain: Formal training every 14 months / promotion in different locations in US and other places. Different gear for each level / rank - jacket for ACI, Patagonia for AC, duffel bags... Extra 10s, externships, international office rotation (6 month)
+: Free Headspace subscription, highest salary of the three, best office interior designs, TEDxBCG, secondments, ability to do BCG Fellows and other internal initiatives, can "boomerang" if you work somewhere else but want to come back to BCG, most flexible with graduate school sponsorship
10. Exit Opportunities:
+McKinsey: Good for PE, Great for industry exits, Great for MBA/Grad school
+Bain: Great for PE, Good-Great for industry exits, Great for MBA/Grad school
+BCG: OK for PE, Great for industry exits, Great for MBA/Grad school